Today I decided to share with you a few tips that can give your dull business plan some "punch".
You need punch or you'll not succeed in the crowded markets startups face in this intense global market we now live in.
Punch is that power you feel when you hear or read something amazing has just been said by a founder of a new enterprise. It's the same feeling that impacts your psychology when you saw the first iPhone or the first person you fell in love with. It takes some of your breath away. You think it is amazing and you respond positively, immediately. You want to buy it right then.
Here are some examples from eleven business plans I have just finished reading.They are plans from my recent semester class at Cornell University. Experienced engineers and scientists wrote the documents to support some amazing ideas for new enterprises.
- Surprise the market. In a very crowded market for products sold to students, RAB chose a flanking move: they enlisted the Greeks (fraternities and sororities) as strategic partners, added scholarships and group discounts in a focused plan that out-witted the early undistinguished rivals who sold the same products to any student. The rest of the plan is a secret). Doing the unexpected adds punch to your bplan. (Doing the unexpected adds punch to your bplan.
- Go the opposite direction. The market for robots is going to larger, more sophisticated devices that cost a lot more. So ARobotics went the opposite direction, to hand-held robots for launching into fire and hazardous situations without bursting the budget of fire and police departments. This new competitive landscape has no one else in it. Going the opposite direction adds punch to your bplan.
- Cut friction in all the giants. CCloud discovered a technology that can deliver secure data while cutting the number of cloud computers in half without increasing the latency of response.The technology will be licensed to all the giants instead of creating a proprietary cloud. All the giants win. It's like oil that makes the engine's parts work with a lot less friction. Fueling giants adds punch to your bplan.
- Join the gorilla instead of fighting it. InserTech's bplan signed up the gorilla who might have decided to copy the startup's idea and crush it. The engineers designed the tiny wireless heart flow monitoring device so it could be added to the heart pacemakers sold by giant public corporations when they are inserted in patients. Both companies win by focusing on what they do best. Joining instead of fighting the gorilla adds punch to your bplan.
Now think of mixing two or more of those punch ideas. For instance, surprise the market by going in the opposite direction results in first shocking competitors, then creating fear in them (they'll miss the better market segment you are headed for) and forcing them to use precious cash to re-engineer their bplans. They will be months behind you, maybe a year or more. That's a lot of punch in your bplan.
Still wondering about the power of punch? Think about the startup that decided to use the ordinary post to send subscribers movies when the industry gorillas rented movies for you to drive and pick up. Netflix is now a giant public corporation while the former gorillas are either dead or starving. Surprise plus opposite direction made millions for a lot of people in that company.
BOTTOM LINE: Think "out of the box". Plan differently, very differently. Be bold. Be clever. Be very creative. Keep secret. Surprise is a key element in executing this type of plan (a "Flanking Strategy"). Mix elements to add power to your punch. That is how plans create unfair advantage.You can do it also.